If you’re considering a career change that requires relocation, a trailing spouse who works can sometimes pose a dilemma if you find a job before your spouse does. What can you do in this situation? Well, there may be several options, depending on your personal or professional circumstances.
Trailing spouse’s employer has a satellite office or will allow the spouse to work remotely.
In ideal circumstances, your spouse’s employer may have an office in the new city to which you’re moving and allow your spouse to work in the other office. This would eliminate the necessity for your spouse to look for a new job and lessen the impact and burden on you and your family.
Spouse chooses not to work.
If your personal and financial circumstances permit (or depending on how lucrative the new job may be), it’s not uncommon for the trailing spouse to stop working when you relocate. This may provide him/her with the opportunity to be a stay-at-home parent or pursue a personal interest or hobby. Recently, for example, a friend’s husband accepted a job in Houston as an investment banker. They resided in New York, and she had a full-time career in marketing. But, this was an excellent career opportunity for her spouse and their family, so my friend decided to stop working and relocated their family to Houston. She is now a stay-at-home mom to their 8-year-old son. And, while it was previously a hobby, she now spends much of her time painting and selling her art to local businesses.
Delay the start date of your new job
Another practical possibility is for you to approach your new employer about delaying your start date to give your spouse more time to find a job in the new location and minimize any period of your spouse’s unemployment and loss of income. The new company or firm may or may not be amenable to this idea. Often, they needed you to start yesterday, so whether this is a realistic option will depend on your new employer and their business needs.
Use a recruiter
Using a recruiter in the industry in which your trailing spouse is employed may be a good way to facilitate and expedite your spouse finding a job in the new location. If you’re already working with or know a recruiter, ask them if they can help your spouse either directly or through a referral to a colleague or another professional contact. For example, although Special Counsel focuses on legal recruiting and placement, we have sister companies that focus on multiple other disciplines and industries – e.g., Parker & Lynch, an established leader in accounting and financial executive recruiting and permanent services, is one of Special Counsel’s affiliate companies. So, if you’re working withSpecial Counsel and your spouse is an Accountant, we would introduce him/her to one of our colleagues at Parker & Lynch in the city to which you’re relocating for assistance in finding your spouse a new job.
Explore employment opportunities for your spouse with your new employer
Many companies or firms have a policy that prevents spouses from working together. However, if they do not, depending on your spouse’s occupation and the size and nature of your new employer, there may be employment opportunities for your spouse within the new company or firm. For example, if your spouse is also an attorney, there may be opportunities for him/her at the new firm where you will be working. This will often be contingent on your spouse’s practice area and whether he/she meets the employment criteria of your new employer (e.g., credentials, education, etc.). If you pursue this route, it may be a sticky situation for you and your new employer – you would hate for your employment and getting off on the right foot in your new job to be contingent on your new employer offering (or worse, not offering) your spouse employment.
Take advantage of your new employer’s professional or personal network
Another option for your spouse is to take advantage of and use your new employer’s professional and personal networks to make connections and create relationships with individuals who may be able to assist your spouse find a new job. When you move to a new city and know very few people, you probably have little to no personal or professional network to which you can tap in. In this situation, your new employer may offer to help your spouse by tapping into their own vast personal and professional networks and facilitate your spouse finding a new job. Many employers will offer this to new employees with trailing spouses.
Of course, these are all ideas that may or may not be full-proof when you find yourself contemplating relocation for a new job. However, these tools or ideas can be very helpful and many may be used simultaneously to make a big life event a little easier for you and your trailing spouse.
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